23rd February 2004




State Parliament will be asked to force insurance companies to open their books to disclose the extent of the windfall they can expect from draconian new personal injury laws due to be passed later this week.

No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon has teamed up with Greens MP Kris Hanna, as part of a last ditch effort to “put the blow-torch on insurance companies instead of seriously injured victims”.

The Government’s Bill, the Law Reform (Ipp Recommendations) Bill,  is part of a national package of legislation introduced by State Labor Treasurers (after consultation with the Federal Government) to reduce payouts and make it more difficult for victims of accidents to claim compensation.

While the changes will slash the number of victims entitled to bring a claim (particularly in medical negligence and public liability cases) the insurance industry has refused to commit to a reduction in premiums.

The Bill, which passed the Legislative Council last December, is due to be debated later today in the House of Assembly. Kris Hanna has flagged that he will move for the entire Bill to be referred to a Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament to review its affect on victims and on insurance premiums.

Mr Hanna said: “So far, this so-called reform package has been a one way street for big insurance companies, aided and abetted by State Labor Governments. It was one of the big factors in leading me to leave the Labor Party last year.”

After meeting with Nick Xenophon this morning, Kris Hanna will also move an amendment to require insurance companies to disclose the impact of these legislative changes on their bottom line - before the Bill becomes law.  

A precedent for disclosing such information has been set by the State’s Motor Accident Commission, which discloses in its Annual Report the financial impact of legislative changes to the State’s Compulsory Third Party Scheme.

The amendment would require private insurers to set out in broad terms the likely savings (based on actuarial advice) of changes to the law.

Mr Hanna said:

This amendment will force private insurers to do what the State’s major insurer, the MAC, already does. It will give consumers an opportunity for the first time to look behind the insurance industry’s PR squeals. It will mean big insurers will have to disclose the extent of savings these changes will bring and whether they are being passed on to consumers as premium savings. It may well expose the myth of a ‘litigation explosion’ in Australia .”

Mr Xenophon urged Treasurer Kevin Foley to support the disclosure requirement.  

“It’s time Kevin Foley jumped off the conga line of State Treasurers sucking up to big insurers, and did something to stand up to the big end of town for consumers.”


Written and authorised by Nick Xenophon, 653 Lower North East Road, Paradise, SA 5075